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Voting Clipart

Voting Clipart

Yesterday, the First Circuit Court of Appeals said that the New Hampshire law banning a person from displaying a marked ballot reflecting how he or she voted including posting of those images on social media sites violates First Amendment rights of voters. The law carried up to a $1,000 fine. The appellate court determined that the law violates free speech rights protected by the First Amendment. The law was enacted to avoid vote buying and voter intimidation, what it did was spark a controversy in this social media age over the “ballot selfie”. The law, which originated in one form in 1891 was intended to combat voter intimidation and vote buying. It was amended in 1911 to forbid any voter from “allowing his ballot to be seen by any person, with the intention of letting it be known how he is about to vote.” In 2014 New Hampshire amended that statute to read:

No voter shall allow his or her ballot to be seen by any person with the intention of letting it be known how he or she is about to vote or how he or she has voted except as provided in R.S.A. 659:20. This prohibition shall include taking a digital image or photograph of his or her marked ballot and distributing or sharing the image via social media or by any other means. 

The appellate court determined that just applying intermediate scrutiny the statute is unconstitutional. Intermediate scrutiny basically means that the statute has to at least be narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest. There is no proof that vote buying or voter intimidation is an actual problem in New Hampshire and there was definitely no proof that posting how you voted on Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat was going to cause any voter intimidation or vote buying and most definitely none sufficient to outweigh the First Amendment free speech rights that were being affected by the statute.

The appellate court in upholding the district court’s ruling completed its opinion with the simple adage “a picture is worth a thousand words”. You can read more about this here.

In Vermont there is no law against photographing your ballot, but since there is a law still on the books about publishing how you are going to vote before you cast your ballot, wait to post that selfie until you have already submitted your ballot. But probably the most important take on all of this is that, ballot selfie or not, we all should get out there and vote.

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Today was Town Meeting Day, something that I didn’t know even existed until I moved to Vermont. Today is the day that the people of Vermont take democracy into their own hands and move it from some esoteric concept into concrete reality. Town Meeting Day is the day (or the evening before in many towns) when members of the community gather together to discuss and vote on the issues that affect their town and each resident of it personally. The issues usually cover the budget and how it is allocated, taxes and how they are collected, various municipal positions and how they are filled. It is a day to stand up and be heard and be counted. In a great many of New England towns, voting is done by a simple show of hands — not with fancy, computerized voting equipment. Australian ballot voting is done with paper and pen — something alien to someone who grew up with the political machine that churns in the more metropolitan mid Atlantic area of the country.

A New England town meeting in Huntington, Vermont

A New England town meeting in Huntington, Vermont (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember that at our first town meeting, held in the gymnasium of the town’s elementary school, I pretty much sat there completely dumbfounded at the simplicity of the whole system. The selectboard (which is the governing body of our town) along with an elected moderator, hold a meeting where towns folk vote on the various warnings that have been posted. The steadfast items are usually the budget and other monetary related town issues. People stand up, speak their name and voice their piece of mind on the issue — be it pro or con. Everyone has a right to be heard and speak their mind. Sometimes, there is civil discussion and sometimes, the discussion gets a little heated (that’s where the moderator comes in). After the discussion of each issue, there is a vote. Simple, democracy at its purest.

Old Glory, Patriotic Rustic Peeling American F...

Old Glory, Patriotic Rustic Peeling American Flag, The Stars & Stripes, Red, White, Blue, on Wood (Photo credit: Beverly & Pack)

Tonight I was also able to see the other side of the voting process — the counting of the ballots at town hall following the Australian ballot portion of the election. It is interesting to sit down with fellow residents and count and tally each of the votes — participating at the most fundamental level in one of the greatest privileges we hold as Americans — the right to vote –the right to choose — the right to decide.

 

Wallingford town offices

Image via Wikipedia

One of the things that I enjoy about New England is its democracy. It’s pretty neat that people in the town get together once a year at a meeting to talk out and vote on issues that are important to them. It’s nice to see friends and neighbors get recognized for their hard work. It’s interesting when someone stands up at town meeting and asks a question, it’s nice when someone stands up for no other reason thank to draw attention to a job well done by workers in town that we can often take for granted.

Last night we had our town meeting here in Wallingford. It’s always an interesting night, our own peek into the window of democracy and the power of the people wrapped deliciously in the sixth grade’s annual bake sale. All in all it was a relatively quiet town meeting. Not a lot of discussion over anything, different than last year, but still just as interesting.

Today we will vote on several of the warnings that were brought before us last evening. Unlike some other towns where all the voting is done at town meeting, ours is a hybrid. Some things are voted on at town meeting, some are voted for by Australian Ballot at the poles today.

As you decide whether or not your schedule will permit you to vote today and whether you will take the time to make the trip to the polls; take a look at what is going on around the world – people are risking their lives for even the most paltry imitation of the rights that we selfishly take for granted. In deference to the people the world over that are willing at this very moment to give up their lives for what we often don’t consider much at all–get out there and vote today.

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home-daysiesvoteI love flowers and a Daysie would just be dandy. If you love me, vote for me. Vermont’s 7Days is having its annual Daisies Awards and one of the categories is your favorite blog (non-political). It’s an online vote and I would appreciate it. You can’t just vote for the blogs, though, there are other categories that you have to cast a ballot for in order for your vote to count.

Here’s the link  to the home page – just click on the Daysies Vote image and it will put you through to the balloting. Seven Days

Thanks!!!!!

The sign at Town Hall was amusing to say the least. Definitely not high tech. A piece of plywood, about 2×2 painted orange placed on a stake stuck into the ground with the simple words “Vote Today” stenciled on it.  The message was clear, but totally plain, simple and not at all fancy – totally New England.

We voted. I am still not used to the whole idea of writing ballots but hey — it’s quaint.

I will be interested in seeing what the results are when they come out. Who won, who lost and since there were a lot of write-ins available for the positions, what neighbor may be the new municipal officer.

Evilwife on the move

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